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Act on kidnapped Abuja-Kaduna train passengers now, Reps urge Buhari

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The House of Representatives has called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to ensure timely release of the passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train abducted by terrorists.

The chamber specifically urged him to “expedite action to secure the release of the remaining 51 Nigerians kidnapped in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack and all other Nigerians held hostage by bandits and terrorists across the country.”

In addition, the parliament urged the Federal Government to set up a high-powered inter-agency panel to coordinate efforts and ensure the release of abductees across the country, as well as assist their families.

Furthermore, the lawmakers mandated the House Committees on Army, National Security and Intelligence to ensure compliance with the resolutions.

The resolutions were based on the unanimous adoption of a motion titled, ‘Need to secure the Release of the Kidnapped Abuja- Kaduna Train Passengers and other Nigerians Held Captives in the Country.’

Messrs Bamidele Salam, Julius Ihonvbere, Aminu Goro, Nnolim Nnaji, Shehu Kakale, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, Benjamin Mzondu, Jaha Ahmed, Mansur Manu-Soro, Abubakar Yabo and Kingsley Uju jointly sponsored the motion.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed that the leadership of the House met with families of the victims earlier on Wednesday, describing how badly he felt when he say the trauma the relatives are going through.

Gbajabiamila said, “As a House, we need to come together and put pressure on our security agencies to get the victims out. Eleven people have been freed so far and there are still over 50 in captivity. The families, friends and relatives that we met yesterday, quite honestly, one cannot but feel their pains.

“I commend Honourable Bamidele (Salam) for his work and efforts so far in this regard. And I think as a House we should come together and do whatever we can as an institution to encourage the agencies, who are doing their best but who still need to do more to get these people out.”

Moving the motion, Salam cited Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, while Section 17 (2) (b) further states that the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity maintained and enhanced.

The lawmaker noted that in the last 10 years, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings and other forms of violent crimes have become “a security epidemic” in different parts of the country.

“The House is worried that over 70 per cent of the kidnapped victims are mostly children, women and elderly persons who were violently attacked and captured by criminals in the course of discharging their daily activities on the farms, villages, roads, worship centres and other places;

“The House is alarmed that a large number of the kidnapped citizens have remained in captivity for years, months and days without any form of help to either release them or provide social, medical or economic support to their grieving family members from the Government,” he said.

Salam listed some of the unresolved cases of kidnappings to include the remnant of 2014 kidnapped Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu in February 2018, the Islamiyya school students kidnapped in Niger State on May 30, 2021; the Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna students kidnapped on July 5, 2021; and the students of Federal Government College Birnin Yauri kidnapped on October 21, 2021.

According to him, there have been over 100 cases of kidnappings and abduction of Nigerians in 2022, the most disturbing being the case of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack of March 28, 2022.

Salam said, “The House is dismayed that during the train attack, 168 Nigerians were reportedly kidnapped with eight persons killed, including a young doctor due to travel out of the country the week the incident occurred.

“The House is concerned that the abductors of the train attack recently released pictures and video footages of 62 victims held hostage in terrible, physical and emotional conditions, with a threat to kill them if their demands were not met by the Federal Government;

“The House is also dismayed that the hostages include children aged two, five, seven and nine years; men with bullet wounds, a victim with an amputated leg, diabetic patients, while others are citizens with various health challenges as well as nursing mothers.”

The lawmaker noted that the stories told by 11 of the hostages recently released by the kidnappers depicted the “increasingly deteriorating condition of the remaining hostages, who are getting malnourished, emotionally distressed and psychologically traumatised for over 70 days in the forest.”

He said, “The House is concerned that if nothing urgent is done to secure the freedom of victims in captivity across the country, citizens will lose confidence in government which may embolden criminals and groups to step up acts of criminality and thus endanger the stability of the nation.”

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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